[We welcome guest blogger Rev. Jim Taylor to talk about Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent by Richard Rohr, founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.]
This has been a meaningful Lenten experience, helped along by Fr. Richard Rohr’s insightful Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent. Like all good theologians of the church, Fr. Richard has led us back “to the sources” (Erasmus). I feel myself drawn, once again, into the deeper story in and behind the words and paragraphs of Scripture—not so much me reading it, but it reading me.
During this Holy Week, I am captivated by the title question for Wednesday of Holy Week in Wondrous Encounters (page 130): “How Much Did Jesus Know and When Did He Know It?” For me, the inquiry and reflection forms a gravity well—drawing me in and grounding me—into the text of Matthew 26:14-25.
To fully enter the mystery and glory of Holy Week, I found myself imagining what might have gone through Jesus’ head and heart at this momentous time. What was he thinking and feeling as he dined with the Apostles at the Last Supper? What went through his head when he looked at Judas? What did he feel when he picked up the bread and broke it and then drank of the cup? What was it like for Jesus to anticipate an agonizing death? These questions produced an inner dialogue in me of what might have been some of Jesus’ own thoughts:
My final hours descend upon me. I crave to exhaust them with my friends—to be close to them, to hear their voices, to share one more meal. I need them with me before the suffering begins. Later, I’ll pray.
I welcome John’s easy way of loving me. Delight! Unsolicited, Judas eyes me with impatience and displeasure—betrayal lurks in his glance. Sorrow! The contrast is stark and severe. Grief pierces my heart. Terror is contained in this moment. Doubts linger like shadows at the edges of my mind. Beneath the crust of my conviction, there is uncertainty.
I seize the symbols at hand—a cup of wine, some bread—and reveal the hope of a present-future of healing grace. My body will be broken; my blood poured out. My Father will unmask all the violence and injustice and hatred through a willing sacrifice—smothering evil by absorbing it with love! Remember this!
I will die. There is no surprise. I yearn to overcome the dread. My dearly cherished friends will abandon me. Alone! Judas is not the first to betray me—nor the last. I caution Peter in vain. Each must discern that mercy is the imperative in redemption, not righteousness. Have I made it obvious to them? Maybe, if I had more time…
I can feel the anguish, like a volcano of pain, expanding from somewhere deep within me. I can’t prevent myself, erupting, “One of you will betray me!” It’s one last chance for Judas. I wish he’d drop his guard and let me in. Why not?! My complete desire is to love him! It’s too late. My heart is weeping. If only there was another way. My body broken, my blood poured out.
Soothingly, I become aware of my Father’s heart in mine. I’ll try again, “I’m giving you a new command: As I have loved you, love each other. This will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” An impression forms subconsciously: There is no greater love than to give your life for another.
My spiral into the scriptural text this Holy Week seems to be what Richard intended: “not so much information as an experience of transformation, not so much explanation as Encounter itself.” Scripture and my
imagination lead me to an encounter with the “word made flesh.” As always is the case in true encounter, I know and am known. I draw close to Jesus’ own humanity—and I find him loving mine.
How are you celebrating Holy Week?
Rev. Jim Taylor is the pastor of Mosaic Community Church in Seguin, Texas. Mosaic is an emerging church, which recently remodeled 6,500 square feet to add a medical clinic offering full medical and dental services in order for the working poor to have access to affordable health care. Mosaic Community Church also developed a Community Garden to share fresh, organic fruits and vegetables with those who are hungry. Jim is also a Weaver with Men As Learners and Elders (M.A.L.Es), a ministry of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.